Saturday, July 14, 2007

Calling the Youth...

Dear Music Lovers,

I am introducing this new section primarily to raise a few pertinent and poignant questions regarding the growth and the future of Carnatic Music.

While there is no gainsaying that there are many youngsters taking to Carnatic Music in a big way, my query is - are they serious enough and\or can they stay away from the strong influence of the lighter versions of music which could bring them instant fame and lucre?

With music becoming more and more of a visual medium these days, serious Carnatic Music is getting relegated to a handful of its faithful audience.

However I am an optimist and am hopeful that things will turn around and also that youngsters will learn to understand and appreciate the depth, range and the varieties that Carnatic Music has to offer.

Suggestions, ideas and views regarding this are welcome.

Looking forward to your comments,


Girish Mahadevan said...

Hello madam...was just browsing and saw ur blog..

Carnatic music sounds blissssssssssssssssssssss.......

Actually just 2 inform u of ur writings....gr8..;-)...

bye...Take Care

Sathej said...

Sure, there is no dispute about youngsters taking to Carnatic music in a 'big' way - be it learning music or appreciating it,though I would term the latter debatable.Are they serious enough - well, by the look of it, it seems not.The great Palghat Mani Iyer once said "If you treat Carnatic music as secondary, then you will reap the same treatment" He meant that a sincere student must be wholeheartedly devoted to it and not be diverted at any stage whatsoever. Infact, he didn't appreciate the idea of people working somewhere and pursuing music part-time. I entirely agree with him that the pursuit of Carnatic music, only if done full time, would bring great results.Leave alone the youngsters of today, even some established people are straying towards lighter music forms and gimmicks to draw crowds.
As for appreciation, yes, it leaves a lot to be desired. On an average, hardly 10% of the Rasikas in a concert are under 30.The avearge age of a Rasika in a concert would be somewhere around 55-60.Added to this, all the modern ventures, like e-learning Carnatic music!Quite beats me. There is absolutely no substitute to sitting infront of your Guru - observing all nuances and learning.And everybody has started 'teaching' music online. I have even seen ridiculous advertisement saying 20 classes and 200 hours of practice would enable you to play Carnatic music on the flute 'decently'. What does 'decent' mean?
And there are several of these youngsters who learn a Krithi and are so eager to sing it on stage that they don't even mind using notes. Takes off the charm really.
These are the points which readily come to mind.Shall add more as and when I remember, if you don't mind.

preeya said...

i feel, devotion to God is the main aspect of carnatic music. all carnatic songs are pertaining to some deity. as the mind turns more towards God, interest in listening to and learning Carnatic music naturally increases.

To inculcate children's interest in carnatic music, parents should play more of carnatic songs at home, take them to concerts, make them understand the nuances, identify the raagas and most importantly explain the meaning of the songs.

once the meaning of a carntic song is known, youngsters naturally will find it easier to enjoy carnatic music more. and it also helps in developing devotion to God. gradually, an interest to listen to CM will grow. the younger generation will then take up listening to more of carnatic music.

and they can start learning Carntic Music too.

Carnatic music is an ocean and once a person develops an interest in it, his thirst to listen to, and learn more carnatic songs will not get satiated. its only a matter of time.

carnatic music was, is and always be alive. once you have tasted honey, sugarwater seems tasteless. hence carnatic music will never lose its charm.

Shilpa said...

Hi Gayathri, I am Shilpa Raghavan from Gurgaon. Though i have not learnt carnatic music but am a ardent listener.
I guess the reason for the youngsters moving towards lighter versions of music is because they are able to understand it better than traditional music. I feel that the artists also don't take the pain in making their audience understand what they are performing. Once the artists communicate with the audience, the interest will be automatically created.
I guess the artist also needs to understand the kind of audience attending the concert eg. age groups etc. youngster will generally prefer popular and bit fast songs. So the artist needs to adjust accordingly. It is wrong to say that people are not interested in music. Everyone loves music but the kind of music every person listens is different. So there is nothing wrong in changing the percusssions here and there to cater to the taste of the audience.

Sathej said...

Nice views, but I would disagree with one aspect-popular and bit fast songs.What will happen to Shyama Sastry pieces?Personally,I love them when rendered with Bhavam.I don't think the pace of a song has anything to do with its quality.And what are popular songs? Opinions would differ.Carnatic music has to be presented in its rightful format.Changing to songs of a lighter genre in order to draw crowds would not be an appropriate solution.As for understanding other forms of music,I don't believe youngsters listen becuase they really understand rock or pop.

Shilpa said...

Let me clarify my comment. I know al lot of youngsters who listen to carnatic music and take keen interest in discussing it. I didn't say changing the songs but what i really meant was u can have some more accompaniments so that the audience enjoy the instrumental as well as vocal. Popular songs means songs which everybody knows like manasa sancharane, tyagaraja etc. I didn't say that the artist should sing only popular songs but they should try to include tese songs in their list which they are gng to perform. My point was catering to all age-groups in the audience. I don't feel anything wrong in that.

Sathej said...

Accompaniments in today's concerts predominantly include violin,Mrudangam and Ghatam.Morsing and Kanjira are also used sometimes. And the present kutcheri format is well conceived in that it allows sufficient time for accompanists to display their proficiency. Anything in addition to the violin on the melody side would reduce the time available for the vocalist(which even otherwise is less). Instrumental music can be enjoyed in separate kutcheris where there may be an ensemble as the famed Violin-Veena-Venu ensemble of the yesteryears. Manasa Sancharare and other such songs are anyway being sung as Thukkadas after the main piece.And Thyagaraja occupies the pride of place(and rightfully) with usually not less than two Krithis in most concerts. The problem is regarding songs of other composers-even the other two composers of the Trinity who are rarely featured.I don't see Thyagaraja Krithis being deprived of a share in concerts, atleast until now.Catering to all age groups is not wrong at all,but diluting the format definitely is!For instance,it is not in good taste to include an Abhang and omit a Javali or a Padam.

Gayathri Girish said...

Hi All,
I have been reading all the posts with great interest and as expected there are many conflicting views but I am happy that all of you are atleast thinking about Carnatic Music even if you have a few reservations.

In this context,I want to share very briefly my recent experience of judging an Inter-school Cultural Programme. While I was glad that children actively participated and sang enthusiastically, the milling crowd for the Light Music event at an adjacent hall made me wonder as to why Carnatic Music is considered "not good enough" for most school goers !

P.S : In the meantime, keep your comments coming in and let us try and find some solution !


Gayathri Girish said...

Dear Shilpa,

The views expressed by you seem to be the common grouse of many people who perhaps feel that Classical Music has only a lulling effect.

Classicism definitely does not mean singing at a sedentary pace, but rendering the concert with a right mix of speeds or "kaalam" as we call it. Absence of variations will sound monotonous and the audience is sure to be filled with ennui. For example, a Krithi like Mayamma (in raga Ahiri) or Saraguna Paalimpa(in raga Kedaragowla)can be interspersed with a fast paced Giripriyam (in raga Kathanakuthuhalam)or a Nenarunchinaanu(in raga Malavi).


Sathej said...

The inter school experience - hmm.. sigh, that's how it is everywhere these days.And Ahiri followed by Malavi, sounds good. But that's how several people do it nowadays anyway. But, definitely, even if Maayamma, Saraguna Paalimpa,Brovavamma were all sung back to back, I wouldn't mind at all. Soaked in emotions,they are all great Krithis.
Solution, well, I'll try to phrase it in a nice way soon. But, on the whole, the lay people must learn to appreciate nuances. On the other hand,singing forever the light pieces, which the masses may appreciate is not the solution.

preeya said...

Regarding the inter-school event, I feel, in life, we all are faced with two choices, one to follow the pleasant and the other to follow the good. to follow the pleasant may seem easy, simple but it may not Always be for our good.

for eg. most school-goers find junk-food pleasant to taste but we know it is not good for health. similarly, light music is pleasant, rocking, easy to follow, easy to sing, but carnatic music is in the end good for us. how ? carnatic songs are on different deities and so atleast for the three hours of concert, or whenever we listen to carnatic music our minds rest on God. cleansing of the mind is possible only thro' remembrance of God. thus, carnatic music purifies us, uplifts us to the heights of spiritual bliss. it develops bhakthi in us which all saints have advocated. it benefits both the singer as well as the listener.
now it is upto parents, school-goers, all individuals whether they want to take up the easy path or put in the effort to undergo training, to appreciate and learn carnatic music, to understand the import of carnatic songs and develop spiritually.

Sathej said...

Good comment by Preeya.However, in my opinion, actually sitting down to 'cultivate' interest in Carnatic music doesn't work.More often than not,it is a spontaneous liking.For instance,when I hear an elaborate Thodi or an absolutely wonderful Shubha Panthuvarali for 25 min by Shri TNS, I feel blissful. There are no words to describe it. Infcat,words seem unnecessary. I get the same feeling whenever I hear say Alathur Brothers sing some novel Kanakku and Lalgudi Mama reproduces it,all right there on stage.Or when MSG Sir plays an astounding Tanam in Keeravani when accompanying Semmangudi Mama. But I have seen people who are not moved at all by such things. Such people cannot be 'taught' to appreciate Crantic Music. Seriously, I wasn't taught to appreciate.
Whether spiritual development is indeed possible or other such issues comprise another topic. How many singers today actually convey Bhakthi Bhavam? Bhakthi or not, certainly there is some unexplained bliss that I have when I listen to some truly wonderful music. Of course, I don't get that feeling when I listen to mere exhibitionism.

bio chat said...


I am Sathya narayanan, from coimbatore. I am learning our pride classical instrument for the past 3 years under the tutelage of Smt. Seetha balakrishnan. I am not from a musical background. Before learning veena, I was not that much into carnatic music. Whenever I go to any concert I wish listening to songs like Kuraiondrum illai, Alaipayude, Sriman Narayana.

But now learning songs like Meenakshi mee mudham, Rama rama guna seema, in veena especially made me to understand how difficult is to produce such sangatis & how brilliant the composer to tune such wonderful creations.

I personally feel that, listening especially to carnatic music requires little bit of knowledge on Grammar behind the raga and the nuances of the song. Unfortunately for a common man, listening to such heavy songs become hard. But I wish to tell, it is these heavy songs that make the artist to show his/her vidvat.

Now a days, I wish just to listen to the heavy pieces rendered by the artist. So what I feel is, if the artist could tell about the nuances of the raga and the krithi to the audience, I feel even common man can follow & enjoy the Bliss of the artists music.

Kindly pardon my mistakes.

bio chat said...

Greetings madam,
Hope you remember me. I am sathya narayanan, I had an wonderful opportunity to listen to your concert at Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan - coimbatore - during last year pongal series. You sang Sahana varnam, Ramakatha sutha in Madhyamavathi. I really enjoyed every moment of your concert.

Sathya Narayanan

Anonymous said...

Hi Mam,
Ur blogs are a interesting read and shines ur personality in various angles.
Couple of thoughts
1.Having come from a musical background , i havent learnt carnatic music much and very much at listeners level. I too can appreciate a song only if its in a familiar raaga or if the lyrics are catchy.
2.The fact being , Carnatic music is appreciated by people who know it better .More youngsters are learning alright , but not to the extent it could have. Exposure by the media esp tv is veryless.Young children are bomarded with film songs and guitar ,keyboard classes than classical music. I guess the school curriculam must include our music compulsorily so that children learn to appreciate rather than boo and woo.
3.I googled the internet on online carnatic classes. True that its a profession on its own , running parellely along with kutcheris. I guess music is our tradition and culture and it should and need not be learnt only to perform on a stage.Parents and teachers need to note this point and expose kids to this art first. Whether they become performer or not is their talent but learning itself is enriching .
hope i made sense

Anonymous said...

Having learnt veena for 5 years I can tell with certainty that a little knowledge go a long way in appreciating carnatic music. I also feel that knowing the meaning will definitely improve our listening and appreciation.Of course as an old man of 70 years csrnstic music definitely help reduce stressSo it will be a good idea for parents to take their wards to carnatic musicIt is not necessary for everybody to take to music as a profession. Like all profession it is not easy to become a carnatic musician and you cannot learn in vacation or as part time

shaji said...

well....... i started with what u call thukkadas, and the legends like MSS, MLV and more recently NIthyasree, Sudha Raghunath,Priya sisters .. and ofcourse Gayathri all took me gradually to more 'heavy'items. what i feel is continuous exposure to carnatic music (by TV, Radio, CDs, Youtube... and an occassional Kutchery) will make most people converted. Problem is no one in a given family takes up this challenge..
and i agree, an introduction which explains the meaning, speciality of raga,taalam, any anecdotes related if presented before a concert will go a long way in attracting attention of ignoramus like me.